Boehner: GOP bill doesn't expand ObamaCare

Boehner: GOP bill doesn't expand ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

An aide to Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFreedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights GOP revolts multiply against retiring Ryan Can Jim Jordan become top House Republican? MORE wrote a blog post late Sunday defending GOP support for an ObamaCare fix that went largely unnoticed when it passed the House last month.

The clarification came after the influential conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report led its website with the headline: “Republicans Expand ObamaCare?”

In late March, House leadership infuriated rank and file by approving legislation to prevent a pending cut to Medicare physician rates in a voice vote with only dozens of members on the floor.

That bill included a provision to eliminate caps on deductibles for all small group policies. Republicans believe the provision will provide more options for small businesses and encourage employees to invest in health savings accounts.

But the Drudge Report linked to an Associated Press article that suggested Republicans are now quietly helping Democrats fix the law. In a blog post on Boehner’s website, aide Kevin Smith dismissed this notion, saying Republicans had successfully repealed a provision of the law.

“House Republicans have passed measures to repeal the full law, as well as other measures to repeal parts of the law…to protect the American people from the law’s harmful consequences,” he wrote. “President Obama has signed into law a number of House GOP measures to repeal, dismantle, or defund specific portions of the law ... On April 1, 2014, the president did so again, signing the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, legislation that repeals from ObamaCare a harmful provision designed to prop up the law at the expense of families and small employers.”

Republicans say they remain committed to repealing ObamaCare and replacing it in full with a GOP alternative, but Monday’s controversy highlights the fine line they have to walk as the minority in a divided Congress during an election year.

The House has voted more than 50 times to repeal ObamaCare or dismantle parts of it, but those efforts are unlikely to go anywhere unless Republicans hold their majority in the House, take the Senate in 2014 and win the presidency in 2016.

In the interim, ObamaCare will remain law, and there will likely be other areas where Republicans and Democrats agree that the law can be improved. The GOP doesn’t want to be seen as complicit in aiding Democrats in these efforts, especially in an election year when the healthcare program will be at the forefront.

“Successfully repealing this ObamaCare provision is just one part of Republicans’ larger effort to repeal the full law and replace it with better solutions focused on lowering health care costs for families and small businesses,” Smith said.